Quick Answers to Your Complicated Ireland Car Rental Questions


We just got back from our latest trip to Ireland.  Yayyy!

It was wonderful, of course. We rented a car for a week in Wicklow and returned it when we spent the remaining time in Dublin.

You know what? I missed the car.

There is nothing like being able to hop in the car whenever you like and see where the road takes you.

Like when we surprisingly found ourselves with two sleeping kiddos and decided to just keep driving! We ended up finding a few hidden local beaches to explore later in the week.


I got an email a little while back that when I read it, I thought, oh man, soooo many good questions about renting a car.

With permission, I decided to share it here with my responses, because I am pretty sure at least one of these questions has crossed the minds of 95% of people planning their own trip to Ireland for the first time.

I think my credit card covers Ireland. What does that really mean?

My Chase VISA is one of the few credit cards that does cover the CWD coverage. But they require me to waive any coverages offered by the car rental agency, which makes their coverage (Chase’s coverage) as primary. Chase has even provided me with a letter stating as much (which I would have reprinted 2 weeks prior to my departure).

But I’m not clear as to whether they cover *just* the mandatory CDW coverage, or if they also cover the optional Excess Protection (reduces Damage Waiver Excess charges) and Roadside Assistance (tires/glass) coverages. I’ll have to find out.

My Take:

If you use Chase’s insurance, you are essentially getting Super Collision Damage Waiver or Excess insurance (even though they don’t exactly call it that).

If there is any damage at the end of your trip, your chase card will be charged automatically with the repair costs. You will in turn work with Chase to go through a claims process to have those charges removed (Chase will require, receipts, pictures, any documentation like damage reports or police reports, etc.).

Chase’s insurances should include damage to tires and windshield as you won’t be able to purchase tire/windshield coverage from the car rental company since you are waiving all insurance from them.

Should I get an automatic & the full Super Collision Damage Waiver (SCDW) insurance from the car rental company?

Rural Road in Ireland surrounded by mountain and clouds

Plus, the whole manual vs automatic transmission choice.  Yes, I can drive a stick, but I haven’t in Ireland.  And yes, I’m aware the learning curve of driving on the opposite side of the road combined with learning to drive a left-handed manual transmission, might be tempting fate.

I’m very tempted to simply spend the extra money to rent an Automatic transmission and simply pay for ALL of the coverages offered by the rental agency (CDW, Excess Protection (or Super-CDW) and Roadside Assistance (tires/glass).

My Take:

This is very much what I recommend to 99% of first time visitors to Ireland. Unless you drive a manual every day and it is second nature to you, having an automatic is well worth not having the additional stressor of shifting with your left hand.

Purchasing the additional insurances from the car rental company makes life so much easier. You won’t have any holds placed on your credit card for the duration of your trip. You won’t have to worry about photos or follow-up documentation. You won’t have to file any claims when you return.

And (probably my favorite part), you can toss those keys in at the end and not worry about the run in you had with the stone wall and your side mirror. :-)

Which company (and which site) should I book my car rental with?

Black Car on small Irish Road

I’m also under the impression that renting through an agency located in Ireland (with the ‘.ie’ suffix in the domain name) will provide me the most competitive and accurate quotes. I was going to consider renting through Costco here in the US, as they historically offer the best prices for domestic rentals. But not sure about Ireland.

Dan Dooley seems to be the sentimental favorite for past vacationers to Ireland, but they were bought out by Enterprise in 2017 and now I’m hearing they are a lot more ‘corporate’ than they used to be. If I do choose to book through Dan Dooley, do you recommend doing so directly with the Dublin Airport location? Or will the US-based location in New Jersey ensure all fees are covered prior to my arrival? I’ll be traveling into the UK (Northern Ireland) and back for a couple of days, so I know there will be an added fee for that too.

My Take:

Dan Dooley used to be my favorite too… But, unfortunately, they are merely just an agent for Enterprise now, not a special Irish company with great customer service we were used to before.

If I were planning to buy the Super Collision Damage Insurance when looking at a rental car quote in Ireland, I’d keep Dan Dooley in the running. If it so happened that they came out as the least expensive, I’d use them. But I wouldn’t necessarily go out of my way to use Dan Dooley as I had in the past.

Enter your email below to get access to an Ireland Car Rental spreadsheet. It helps me compare apples to apples when comparing prices between car rental agencies. I love it because it has all of the car rental agencies in Ireland listed so all I have to do is click and enter my details to find the best deal. Feel free to copy it and use it yourself. 

I would shy away from using Costco to get your rental car in Ireland unless you fully understand what coverage you are getting. Most often with these third-party companies you don’t receive any Collision Damage insurance, which means you will be required to purchase it at the counter, plus any SCDW/Excess insurance you like. If you don’t read the terms and conditions of Costco’s policy closely, you may be surprised by all the extras when you arrive (no one wants sticker shock within the first few minutes of arriving!).

That beach we found in Wicklow was just south of the south entrance to Brittas Bay Beach. It doesn’t have any facilities and the car park only has room for at most ten cars. It’s perfectly secluded, has wonderful sand, and light waves to dip your toes into.

If you keep driving along the coast road, you’ll see a few more beaches like this that are clear local spots for swimming and fishing.

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  1. Thanks for posting these car rental suggestions/tips! They were so useful when we went to Ireland last year – we got all the insurance coverage we could and loved the peace of mind!
    This year we’re going again, and feel confident using our Mastercard World Elite card as our insurance.
    One thing to note that you didn’t address…we didn’t have to pay an extra fee for crossing into Northern Ireland.
    Our favourite beach is one we’re returning to – Fanore, co. Clare. The kids learned to surf there!

    1. Hooray! I am so glad the posts were useful! And yay for heading back. Once is just not enough, right??? :-)

      So glad you didn’t have to pay a fee for crossing into NI. Hertz, Avis, Thrifty and Enterprise don’t charge a fee…the others usually do. I understand why they do, but it is nice not having to worry about that extra fee.

      I love, love, love Fanore too! Right near by one of my favorite B&B’s, Orchid House. <3

  2. Diesel vs petrol. Last time in Ireland (August 2015) I opted for diesel manual transmission through Dan Dooley. I noticed most auto rentals do not offer that option. I know that diesel fuel is costlier but the mpg is greater. Is that a viable option these days?

    1. Yes! Still an auto car with diesel is still viable. We did it this trip! I think they are mostly offered with intermediate or full size cars rather than the economy or compact cars.

      Diesel is definitely more cost effective in Ireland, but I found if you go for the smaller ones, you still get great mileage and you can maneuver a little easier on those small roads.

  3. Welcome back home! Thanks for this update. Even though we do have a Chase VISA, I’m not using it for car rental insurance. I’m going the whole 9 yards with everything the rental company has to offer, including an automatic. (In my case it’s Conn’s) Even though being so much more expensive, the peace of mind is worth it.

    1. So agree!! We have a Chase card that also covers Ireland and we’ve used it in the past, but with this trip and how busy are lives are right now. I just didn’t want to have to deal with any paperwork when we got home. Sometimes it’s better just to be easy. :-)

    2. What peace of mind? Spending more money than you need to? I have always thought the idea was to spend less. That’s why we use a Master Card to pay for the excess insurance. It costs the same for the entire rental as it does for one day of the same type of insurance with the rental car company. Roughly. No brainer.

  4. Great FAQs, so very helpful! We’re coming in September and will rent a car. We also want to take the ferry to Scotland. Can we take a rental car to NI and Scotland??

    1. Hi Marianne,

      You’re going to love Ireland in September. It might be my most favorite time go.

      Most of the car rental companies in Ireland do not let you take the car off the island, but you’re not without options. You can do a one way rental from Dublin to Belfast. Then grab the ferry to Cairnryan and get another rental from Hertz (the only agency at Carinryan). Or you can purchase a Rail& Sail ticket from Stenaline and get the ferry over, grab the train and head up to Glasgow or Edinburgh. Pick you your next rental from there. I’d probably go for that last option!

      Hope this helps. Enjoy every moment of your trip!

  5. Hi Stephanie,
    Thanks for your great tips about rental car insurance! Renting a car in Ireland and determining what to do about the CDW and SCDW has always been a source of confusion for us. We just found out that our Chase Visa card will cover the CDW so I am going to call Irish Car Rentals and see if I can opt out of it on our upcoming rental. One thing that nobody seems to offer is any 3rd party liability insurance. The damage or loss of the car itself is covered, but there are no medical payments to others in the case of an accident like there would be on our own car insurance. Do you know of any company that just sells the 3rd party liability if I am using the Chase card for the CDW? Chase specifically said they do not cover 3rd party liability. Do you know if the SDCW covers that?

    1. Hi Andrea!

      I know it can all be so confusing!

      All car rental companies are required to include third party liability coverage on their rentals. So if you use the insurance from the car rental company then, yes, you will be covered for damage to others in case of an accident. There may be a third party insurance company that you can third party coverage from (I haven’t tried so I don’t have specific details on that!).

      I pulled up a random Irish car rental site so you can see the verbiage in their terms and conditions. This is Budget.ie I hope it helps!

      Third Party Cover (TPC)

      By law, this is compulsory and is included in your rental price, covering the driver or additional driver’s legal liability for bodily injury or property damage to others.

      Also known as: Third Party Insurance, Motor Liability Insurance or Legal Liability Insurance.

  6. Thank you Stephanie! OK now I am not sure what to do, as I was all ready to remove the CDW from our rental because we were going to use our Chase card for the the coverage. But Chase specifically told me their coverage only covers damage to the car, not 3rd party liability. I guess when we get to the Europcar desk in Dublin we will decide which to do. Thanks again!

  7. Hi again,
    I looked at this verbage from Auto Europe and it seems to clarify that the 3rd party liability is always included and is separate from the CDW:

    “It’s important to understand Ireland car rental insurance before getting behind the wheel of your next rental vehicle. In Ireland, unlimited Third Party Liability Insurance is a legal requirement as included in the pre-paid price of all car rentals in Ireland. Third Party Liability Insurance protects you from liability resulting from property damage, injury, or death caused to anyone or anything outside of your rental car. In addition to Third Party Liability Insurance, Fire Insurance is included in all rental car rates with Auto Europe, which covers any damage caused to your rental car as a result of fire.”

    It goes on to describe CDW as an additional coverage. So I think we will be ok with our Chase card, but I will print this out and bring it to the rental counter!

    1. Good idea! If you’re going with Irish Car Rentals (rather than Auto Europe), I’d be sure to bring Irish Car Rental’s (or EuropCar’s since they are the parent company) terms and conditions with that verbiage (or contact them directly to get it in writing by email and print that out and bring with you). I think you’ve got it covered!

    2. You’ve got it exactly right Andrea – the car rental company does include third party liability automatically. We have returned from our trip, using our credit card as our insurance, and there were no issues at all. Yay!!
      The lady giving us our car made it very clear that if the car is damaged (a write-off) the full amount goes onto our card immediately, and suggested that it could take 12-18 months to go through the credit card claim. (We just smiled, and said “Okay, thanks for the warning.”)
      Be aware of the price tag of the car that’s covered… our rental was a 2019 VW Tiguan and with the conversion, it would’ve come close to the limit set for coverage with our card. Just a point to be aware of.

      1. Thanks so much to you both! We just got to Dublin and are going to the car rental in the morning. I feel like I have the information I need to deal with the sales agent. I’ll let you know how it goes! Thanks again, Andrea

          1. Andrea is a fine name, but I am Brian. Btw, I hope your trip is still going strong, too, Andrea.

  8. Here’s a bit of a buzzkill. We have used Dan Dooley for ages for frequent trips to Ireland. I would just pick up the phone and call the Dooley USA number and Jim would take care of me like a good friend would. No sweat. Very pleasant man. It was a lovely part of the trip to Ireland experience. Renting a car and spending money lovely? Yeah, that nice a guy was, yeah was, Jim. Jim retired and I guess those lovely corporate Enterprise folk said “let’s shut the office down, too.” So, when I called 800-000-0000 (the 800 is the only real part of number) Jim was gone and the link to someone where Jim used to be in New Jersey, USA, was gone and i was sent across the ocean to, I guess, to Dublin and the lovely Laura McCluskey. Well, she was lovely up until the point when I asked for a price for an automatic Skoda and she then told me via email that it would all be cheaper online. I took this to mean that I had become a burden. So, now I will scope out several companies and I may still go with Dooley/Enterprise for our 3 and 1/2 weeks driving around the country. Jim never blew me off!!! Maybe Laura wasn’t either, but it felt like it. I can just hear it “fecking Americans want everything handed to them.” Jim may have thought that, but he never let me think it might have been on his mind. Oh well. One more thing….we are using a Master Card in my wife’s name to pay the excess super cdw and I always do all of the driving. Standard shift nearly always, wrong side of road, wrong side of car, everything screwed up but I have brung us back alive so far (many visits since 1972). It’s my wife’s card, but why should I have to pay for being an extra driver? A pretty good chunk, too. I just discovered you when i was looking for some rental info. Can’t sleep. Don’t get old, your sleep may suffer. Thanks and good luck. We love Ireland, too.

    1. Brian!! You are speaking my language! I can’t tell you how much I loved Dan Dooley before the switch. I used them almost exclusively because of their great customer service. Like you, I’d still use them now if the price was right, but, man, it was so nice to have a go to company that I loved.

      Hope you finally got some rest (at least you were up doing some Ireland research, right? Dreaming of Ireland is only second best to actually dreaming in your sleep…ha!). :-)

      1. Stephanie!!! Yeah, Dan Dooley a breeze with your man Jim in New Jersey. Now I’ll have to fiddle with all of the crap on the various websites and maybe call Sven or Fiortek and who knows. When I get to Shannon and walk out into the Irish morning it is so sweet. Bless you and keep you (all I ask of God is that He/She exists).

  9. Hello Stephanie, Brian, et al. Thanks again for all of your advice and comments. We are back from our trip and I thought I’d update you on what happened with Irishcarrentals (which is Europcar in Dublin) and the CDW waiver. As it turned out, the agent behind the desk at Dublin airport kindly explained that in order to use my Chase visa for CDW coverage, I would need to book a new reservation, as they were not “able” to remove the CDW. Things like that never make sense to me, why couldn’t you, but oh well. Because I had made my reservation a few months prior and had a good rate, it didn’t make sense to rebook using the last minute rate. So, I ended up using their basic CDW, my husband drove like a champion through crazy roads like the Burren and Slea Head, and we had a fabulous trip. I’ll know for next time to waive the CDW while I make the initial reservation.

    Another trick I’ve learned with Irishcarrentals.com is to get an email quote from them, then wait a couple days. They always follow up in another couple days with a cheaper offer. Ha! Irish tactics, as my Irish husband would say. ??

    1. Hooray for your husband, Andrea! I am so glad he didn’t have any issues (quite the rare case in Ireland). And yay for already planning your trip back. It is such an easy place to love, isn’t it? :-)

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